Skip to Content
  • Counseling Center » How To Help A Friend

Often friends and family have strong reactions. You may feel angry, frightened, and/or hurt. You may feel angry with the perpetrator or, if you know the perpetrator, you may feel angry with the victim and disbelieve her.

To avoid uncomfortable feelings, people often blame the survivor, don't believe her and/or avoid her. None of these responses are helpful to the survivor. It's important to sort out your own reactions.

When speaking with a friend who has been victimized, it is important to keep the following points in mind:

  • Believe your friend.
  • Let your friend know you are willing to listen, but don't press for details.
  • Let your friend decide how much she feels comfortable saying.
  • Make it clear that your friend was not guilty in any way for being assaulted.
  • Don't make comments about what might have been done to prevent the attack.
  • Be prepared to listen for as long as your friend needs your support. Sometimes friends and family members expect survivors to be upset for only a week or two. Understand that the psychological effects of a sexual assault do not just go away after a short period of time. Survivors often have the need to talk about their assault for a long time.
  • Encourage your friend to talk to a counselor at the RWU Center for Counseling and Student Development (phone number is 254-3124) and/or Day One (previously known as the Sexual Assault & Trauma Center of RI0 (phone number is 421-4100).
  • Protect your friend's privacy. Don't reveal the story to other people. Do help her to get help.